Short Story Excerpt

Here are the 1st 2 pages of a 60 page short story that I just completed entitled, A Better Day. Really proud of this one. Naturalistic realism for the most part, but I had to squeeze in some subtle element of supernatural suggestion, towards the end, albeit through an unreliable narrator who, at the point of revelation, cannot be trusted by any reader, so it’s pretty good. The story revolves around 2 interfeeding plot shifts: a high speed chase between civilians and a culture war in the NFL.

In South Carolina––somewheres near Tollie in Beaufort County––not far from the Atlantic coast, and not far from the Great Bean Swamp––on the I-52 N, somewheres between the South Carolina Welcome Center and the giant road-side statue of the 50 foot tall Native American Indian. It’s a crisp, cool, but comfortable, though humid December Monday night, 2 weeks before Christmas. To breathe in the highway air––it’s like sucking in albuterol from an asthma inhaler. That’s how humid it is says some acceptable hyperbole. Hereabouts there’s no hint for knowing why it’s so humid––there’s just a little bit of dankness about the air––but as you get closer to the coast, causality becomes more and more clear, as visibility, incidentally obfuscates increasingly––the seatown of Baddock, for example, is smothered in sea fog. Breathing in the air––it really is like albuterol, there, and it tastes like seaweed. And it’s not just in Baddock, it’s in many other towns that kiss the coast, as well. The sea fog creeps inward for several miles and chokes out these seaside communities for several hours at a time. When it gets like that, which is typical this time of year, you just can’t see a thing, and driving can be very dangerous. Meanwhile in Tollie, where we see no fog, a wino just fell off a ladder while putting up Christmas lights to appease his wife’s demands that he start to acknowledge the Holiday season. And elsewhere nearby, behind a bus stop in downtown New Chili, a hickish thug just robbed a college student’s wallet with a knife, and made out with his gypsie girlfriend, and ran off into the night. But hereabouts, on this recently redone stretch of highway, all is quiet, desolate, indiscreet, and even spooky; fresh newborn asphalt, but zero cars to leech its grace, you have to wonder, what good men waste. It’s not too weird but it’s spooky if you believe in local urban legends. This highway is infamous. Terrible things have happened on this stretch of the highway––in rumor. The highway system cuts through the Coughman Forest, a broadleaf and mixed coniferous forest that spans between New Chili and Tolie for some 60 miles. The Coughman Forest is super thick, and though it seems dominated by broadleafs and South Carolina pines, you get this false impression that the Coughman Forest has a lot of South Carolina palm trees inside it––because you see a lot of palm trees when cut through the forest via this highway––but what a lot of people don’t know is, the State purposely plants palms beside the highways, and there ain’t that many elsewhere in the forest. The median between the highways is littered in chopped up trees, tree stumps, patches of remaining trees, sparse but dense vegetation, dirt piles, inactive bulldozers, porta potties, and excavator machines; this turf between the highways was once a super dense stripe of forest, but now it’s facing some super aggressive deforestation initiative by the State, and the forest that it still remains hangs on by a thread; men are working everyday to bring it down and replace it with a concave lawn. The moon light hits on every surface found allift above the shadows, to repaint a thousand colors into blue and purple hues; senses beg for monocromization––and the spirit of the night. At last a vehicle is summoned. The I-52 North rejoices for life. Coming in fast. And big. And loud. Chaos in a monster truck––meets the Beach Boys singing Kokomo; a driver in a monster truck merges from left to right with a racing heart and a foot of lead, crossing three lanes in empty traffic, to pursue an exit onto the I-290 West. He finally squeezes on the brakes to appease the exit, but as soon as he gets past the curve of the turn, the engine roars like a chariot powered apull by 3 thousand lions.

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